We couldn’t be more excited about Windstar Cruises $250 Million Star Plus Initiative. Not only will the three Star-Class vessels’ engines be completely replaced, but we will add stunning new guest spaces including a new restaurant. So we wanted to give you an exclusive insight into this process with our newly appointed Vice President of Expansion Projects, John Gunner.
John, I think that the question that is at the tip of everybody’s tongue is why? What is the inspiration for these extensive changes?
Windstar Cruises three Star-Class ships are popular with our guests, and this project gives us a unique opportunity to enhance the technical areas of the vessel while also adding new facilities for guests to enjoy. The cool thing about essentially cutting the ship in half is that it gives us a rare opportunity to completely overhaul the engine room and update it with new technologies. A key component of our mission and vision as a company is the emphasis on innovation and responsibility. By overhauling our engine rooms, we integrate innovation into the very heart of our ships. We take very seriously our responsibility for stewardship of the places we visit, and this will be demonstrated with the installation of the new tier 3 engines, which will reduce our carbon footprint.
Will the new engines make the ships more environmentally friendly? Will they be more efficient and faster?
Yes, absolutely. Each ship will have seven engines replaced with four new tiers 3 engines. That means we will only need 2 engines running for most cruising speeds. Not only will this be more efficient, but the engines themselves burn cleaner fuel that will allow for a softer environmental footprint. Also, the new engines will enable the ships to increase our cruising speed by up to 4 knots. In addition, we will upgrade other systems such as plumbing, sewage treatment, and ballast water treatment to enhance behind-the-scenes operations and guest experiences.
How much length is being added to each ship?
All together, we will be adding a length of approximately 84 feet (25.6 meters) to each of the three ships – Star Legend, Star Breeze, and Star Pride. Star Legend is already a little bit longer than the other two ships, so at the end of the day, the ships’ total lengths will be between 521 to 524 feet (159-160 meters) compared to the original length of 440 feet (134 meters). The $250 Million Star Plus Initiative does much more than allow us to add new engines and additional length. After completion, each ship will have beautiful new public spaces including brand new restaurants, shops, a world-class spa, and 50 lovely new suites bringing each ship capacity to 312 passengers total.
Do you think the increased length and capacity will change the small-ship experience?
Honestly no. Today, our flagship Wind Surf carries 310 guests, so the capacity increase from the Star Plus Initiative brings us to a similar total of 312 guests for each of the Star-Class ship. The significant change to how guests enjoy their Windstar experience will be how the new engines, public spaces, and suites will dramatically enhance the guest experience overall. Also, from an itinerary and deployment perspective, we will still be able to go into small ports like Sanary-sur-Mer, Wrangell, Bequia, Huahine, as well as sail up the Garonne River to Bordeaux, and transit the Kiel and Corinth Canals. Our small ship cruising experience is becoming better than ever.
What about the three sailing ships? Will they be renovated as well?
We do have regularly scheduled maintenance for the ships, and dedicated drydocks for more extensive renovations and upgrades. In fact, Wind Star just emerged from a drydock that included an installation of the Yacht Club Café. Wind Surf will enter a 24-day drydock next fall. And most excitingly, Wind Spirit will travel to Singapore for a 6-week drydock that will refresh public spaces, as well as the technical and back-of-house parts of the ship. That will be a rare cruise opportunity for guests as we’ll only do these itineraries twice, including ports in Vanuatu and New Caledonia that are difficult to visit due to their remote location.
When will the renderings, deck plans, and more announcements become available?
As we progress through this complex process, additional details will be forthcoming. There will be a dedicated microsite that will launch this year where you will be able to track the progress and view some exclusive videos, interviews, and renderings.